cover image Serpent Gate

Serpent Gate

Michael McGarrity, Author Scribner Book Company $23 (320p) ISBN 978-0-684-85076-4

McGarrity delivers another complex and powerful suspense novel in this follow-up to Mexican Hat (1997). Retired New Mexico cop Kevin Kerney is hired by his friend Andy Baca, now New Mexico State Police Chief, to investigate the murder of Paul Gillespie, a patrolman in the town of Mountainair. Kerney's persistence and seasoned intuition help him follow the convoluted rantings of his only lead--homeless schizophrenic Robert Cordova--about rape and a place called Serpent Gate to a difficult conclusion. When the governor's offices are robbed of $8 million worth of art, Baca appoints Kerney deputy chief and assigns him the case. We know already that Mexican drug lord Enrique DeLeon, Kerney's nemesis from Tularosa (1996), masterminded the theft. His accomplice, a Santa Fe businessman, launders the money through investments in elite real estate development. The governor's nephew and his law partner are also involved, allowing McGarrity to examine the interplay of politics and law enforcement. McGarrity, a former deputy sheriff and an astute storyteller, joins the murder and the theft only tangentially when three DeLeon thugs, sent to murder Kerney, follow him in a blizzard as he's searching for the now-missing Cordova at Serpent Gate. Assembling a large cast of vivid characters in a splendidly evoked locale, McGarrity produces another outstanding mystery, subtle yet full of action, with a chilling closing scene that sets up the next book. (June)